Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi: Conservative, Reform Jews Wreak 'Terrible Damage'

Amar seeks to nix decision to recognize non-Orthodox rabbis and fund their salaries.

Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger
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Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar wants to scuttle the state's plan to recognize some Reform and Conservative rabbis and pay them with public funds.

Amar plans to convene the Chief Rabbinate Council in an attempt to recruit Israel's Orthodox rabbis to fight the decision. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein advised the High Court of Justice about the decision last month, and it was given the status of a high court ruling.

Meanwhile, the Knesset Finance Committee, which is chaired by United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni, is not hurrying to approve funds for this purpose, and Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi has accused two justices who heard the Reform Movement's petition of acting out of personal interest.

In an interview last night with the Kol Berama radio station, which is identified with Shas, Amar said the Reform and Conservative movements "uprooted all the foundations of Torah" and that there's a need "to explain the terrible damage that they wreak."

He said he had written a letter to Weinstein, saying the attorney general should have consulted with the Chief Rabbinate before giving his unprecedented agreement to recognize non-Orthodox rabbis.

"We view such a thing as the planting of a seed that will yield fruits that are not good fruits or kosher fruits, but that bear within them grave risks to the Jewish people from every direction," Amar said.

"We know that the greatest danger to this generation is the assimilation that is eating into us and depleting us, and they give a hand, haphazardly and easily, to this terrible phenomenon, aside from what they uproot - actually uproot - from the foundations of Torah."

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the director of the Reform Movement in Israel, said the chief rabbi's intentions "prove the degree to which the Chief Rabbinate has lost its state function and the degree to which it is disengaged from the strong desire of the broader Israeli public, which is fed up with the Orthodox monopoly.

"It would behoove Rabbi Amar to resign from his state post; then he will be free to wage public and political battles just like any other citizen in the State of Israel," Kariv said. "But until then, it would be appropriate for him to internalize the principles of democracy and avoid exploiting his state position to incite against a public of tens and hundreds of thousands who identify with the approach and the path of Reform Judaism."

Chief Rabbi Shlomo AmarCredit: Olivier Fitoussi



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